Tendulkar, Harbhajan script India's tri-series triumph

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/india-tri-champs.jpg' class='caption'> Sachin Tendulkar's 44th ODI century and Harbhajan Singh's five-wicket haul scripted India's tri-series triumph as they cruised to a 46-run win in the final

Updated: September 15, 2009 13:18 IST
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Sachin Tendulkar's 44th ODI century and Harbhajan Singh's five-wicket haul scripted India's tri-series triumph as the visitors raised their game when it mattered most and cruised to a 46-run win in the final match against Sri Lanka here on Monday.

Thumped by 139 runs in their Saturday's meeting which cost them world number one ODI team's tag, India first amassed 319 for five and then shot out Sri Lanka for 273 in 46.4 overs to settle score.

Chasing a mammoth 320-run target, Sri Lanka got the perfect start from Tillakaratne Dilshan (42 off 29 balls) and Sanath Jayasuriya (36) before running out of steam. Down the order, the 70-run stand between Thilina Kandamby (66) Chamara Kapugedera (35) was a mere act of defiance and not enough to turn the match on its head.

Harbhajan Singh (5/56) was the wrecker-in-chief even though he missed a hat-trick chance.

Earlier, the Indian top order fired in unison and Tendulkar's majestic 133-ball 138 lifted them to a massive 319 for five wickets after Mahendra Singh Dhoni had won an important toss and elected to bat.

Tendulkar raised 95 runs with makeshift opener Rahul Dravid (39) and 110 with next man in Dhoni (56) and then Yuvraj Singh (56) provided the late charge to take the tally past the 300-mark.

The target was tough but Sri Lanka looked game for a fight with Dilshan going after Ishant Sharma. Dilshan greeted Ishant with back-to-back fours in his first over and then went on a rampage.

The famous Dilscoop was not far behind either as Dilshan executed the shot against his bemused Delhi Daredevils teammate Ashish Nehra.

Desperate for a breakthrough, Dhoni pressed in service Harbhajan Singh as early as in the eighth over and the offie did not let his skipper down, dealing a double strike that knocked the stuff out of Sri Lanka's chase.

Harbhajan castled Dilshan with his fifth delivery and then returned to catch Mahela Jayawardene (1) off his own bowling in his next over.

Encouraged by his success, Dhoni tossed the ball to Yusuf Pathan and the lanky offie claimed Jayasuriya, just when the left-hander had started looking menacing.

Two more quick wickets and Sri Lanka had lost their top half for 131 and once Sangakkara fell to a freak dismissal - his bat came loose and fell on the wicket on follow through - the hosts had the writing on the wall.

Earlier, 36-year-old Tendulkar seemed to be in imperious form as he notched up his 44th ODI century with a stunning display of strokeplay.

With Dinesh Karthik failing in both the matches, India opted for a new opening pair of Tendulkar and Dravid for the summit showdown and the experienced duo clicked together.

The two experienced batsmen found runs easy to come by as they took the total to 50 by the end of the 10th over and sought to accelerate the pace of scoring from then on.

Dravid got a reprieve when he was on 24 with Tillakaratne Dilshan dropping a fairly simple catch at gully, Thushara being the unlucky bowler.

Sangakkara introduced Lasith Malinga in the 13th over and Tendulkar greeted him with a glorious backfoot punch to the fence.

Dravid then lifted spinner Ajantha Mendis for a six but the wily Sanath Jayasuriya removed him in the next over. Dhoni promoted himself to the number three slot and got into the act almost immediately with a flurry of strokes.

He and Tendulkar kept up the pace of scoring without taking too many risks as they brought about the 100-run partnership to pile up the agony on the hosts.

Tendulkar took a single by cutting Mendis to the sweeper cover to notch up his 44th ODI century.

The hosts finally broke the partnership when Dhoni mistimed his pull shot and Kandamby took a well-judged catch. A tired Tendulkar, who called in a runner after suffering from cramps, was dismissed at the fag end of the innings, being trapped leg before wicket by Mendis.

His sublime knock of 138 came off just 133 balls and was laced with ten boundaries and a six.

Down the order, Yuvraj chipped in with an unbeaten 41-ball cameo of 56 that had six fours and a six in it.

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